The University of California Police Department has been condemned in numerous reports over the past decade for being too aggressive with student protesters, but they think it'd be a good idea for them to have an armored vehicle.
The UCPD, Berkeley Police Department and Albany Police Department recently decided to partner to seek funding for an armored vehicle that the UCPD would retain custody of, the Daily Cal reports. The proposal asking for funding hasn't been given to the Berkley City Council yet, however, community members are already lining up in opposition.
The agencies plan to receive funding from the Urban Areas Security Initiative, a Department of Homeland Security nonprofit organization that is intended to financially support agencies that are in high risk of a terrorist attack with “security enhancements.”
However, some residents believe the armored car is a symbol of fear and has been obtained in an effort to suppress protests, such as when an armored vehicle was previously used to break up the May 1 Occupy Oakland protest.
“We do not want our police officers sent to other jurisdictions to suppress protected First Amendment activity or non-violent civil disobedience,” the Social Justice Committee of the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists stated in a letter to members of the Berkeley Police Review Commission and Subcommittee on Mutual Aid Pacts. “(R)ecent events, including various police agencies’ responses to Occupy demonstrations, show that there is a need for additional review of our mutual aid policy.”
The Coalition for a Safe Berkeley say the Urban Areas Security Initiative is a step towards "militarizing" local police agencies, according to the Daily Cal. The Gray Panthers and the SHARE Foundation have also been skeptical of the mutual aid proposal the city council will consider along with the possible armored vehicle.
City council member Kriss Worthington, who has been critical of the UCPD in the past, said he first heard of the armored car from the general public, not from the police agencies. "The proposal wasn't presented to the council in any grant request form."
After the community condemned UC Berkeley campus police for jabbing unarmed student protesters with clubs, the city council voted against a mutual aid agreement with the department. The UC Berkeley police defended themselves by saying it was "an act of violence" when students linked arms.
Check Out A Brief History Of University Of California Campus Police Using Excessive Force On Students:
Students and others march across campus to protest outside the University of California, Los Angeles police department after a rally on the Westwood campus Friday, Nov. 17, 2006 to protest police use of a taser on UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad in a campus library Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Authorities negotiate with two tree-sitters at a tree on the campus of the University of California in Berkeley, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008. UC Berkeley officials are preparing to remove the last remaining tree-sitters protesting a planned sports center next to Memorial Stadium, where the football team plays. The university has refused to meet the protesters' demand that it donate $6 million to environmental and Native American groups as part of an agreement for the tree-sitters to come down voluntarily.
A student protester is tazered by a police officer during a protest against an increase in student fees at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2009. The University of California Board of Regents approved a 32 percent tuition increase during a meeting which at the campus today.
Demonstrators protest in front of a closed off University of California, Berkeley building on the Berkeley, Calif., campus, Friday,. Nov. 20, 2009, during a demonstration against university fee hikes and layoffs.
Students occupy the hallway outside the office of the university chancellor at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) to protest education funding cuts and rising tuition on March 4, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Thousands of students and educators from elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges and universities are holding marches, rallies and class walkouts across California today as part of a nationwide effort calling for no more cuts to education. University of California system student fees have increased 61 percent over the past five years and costs have gone up for students of California community colleges which, until the property tax rollback of 1978, provided tuition-free to all high school graduates.
Oakland police officers take down a splinter group of protestors who attempted to block Interstate 880 following a rally for the national day of action against school funding cuts and tuition increases March 4, 2010 in Oakland, Calif. Dozens of protestors were arrested after they stormed the 880 freeway as students across the country were walking out of classes and holding demonstrations against massive tuition increases and funding cuts to college universities.
In this image made from video, a police officer uses pepper spray as he walks down a line of Occupy demonstrators sitting on the ground at the University of California, Davis on Friday, Nov. 18, 2011. The video - posted on YouTube - was shot Friday as police moved in on more than a dozen tents erected on campus and arrested 10 people, nine of them students.